(First posted at RealGM)
Deni Avdija is coming off a season where he got to
experience the pro level for the first time – logging 349 minutes with Maccabi
Tel Aviv in the Israeli BSL and the Euroleague, while also spending parts of
the year with the junior squad participating in a couple of stages of the
Adidas Next Generation Tournament.
As a pro, the six-foot-eight combo forward acted more
as a floor-spacer with little shot creation responsibility. Though he’s shown
some versatility in his release, in terms of being able to take shots off light
movement, Avdija is more of a shot taker than a shot maker at this point of his
He has a fluid shooting motion, fully extends himself
for a high release, rises in good balance, doesn’t need to dip for rhythm and
tends to get a good arc on his shot but the ball isn’t going in at a decent
clip yet, as Avdija missed 72.3% of his 130 three-point shots last season, at a
pace of 8.1 such attempts per 40 minutes.
This summer, the 18-year-old led the Isreali National
Team to the title of the FIBA U20 European Championship in home soil, matching
up against players on average a year-and-a-half older than him.
He was the focal point of the offense – logging 28.6%
usage rate and 27.6% assist rate in the event, with the chance to create on
post-ups, in isolation and middle high pick-and-roll against a set defense.
His court vision stood out, as Avdija can see over the
top in a crowd and impressed with his dexterity delivering passes in a
multitude of ways – with his back-to-the-basket to the opposite wing, with skip
passes to the stretch big in the pick-and-pop, with darts to shooters sprinting
to the corner in transition and with well-timed jump-passes to the roll man.
He wasn’t as impressive as a scorer, though. His
average of 22.8 points per 40 minutes was achieved on just 48.6% effective
shooting. There were some glimpses of three-level of scoring, as Avdija made
pull-ups against the on-ball defenders going under the screen in pick-and-roll,
flashed the ability to over-extend finishing around rim protectors and flashed
a floater to score from the in-between area.
But he doesn’t have a quick first step, is not
particularly fast with the ball, has a fairly basic handle for the most part
and hasn’t yet developed advanced footwork to get his pull-ups off via
step-backs or side-steps. Avdija is not very shifty, looks to gallop into
two-foot leaps in traffic and hasn’t shown much body flexibility to adjust
himself mid-air in a crowd.
With that as the case, the most developed dimension of
his scoring profile is his post-up, as he’s shown an arsenal of moves operating
with his back-to-the-basket – patient approach, power moves to back his way
into short toss-ins, head fakes to bait his man out of position and short
turnaround jumpers over the defender.
On the other end, Avdija does not project as an ace
defender capable of picking up star opponents for the entire game but impressed
with his awareness as a help defender and proved himself capable of hanging
with smaller players out in space from time-to-time.
He was particularly impressive with his activity rotating off the weakside and surprised with his quick leaping ability off two feet to not only challenge shots via verticality but act as a constant shot blocking threat as well – averaging 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes at the U20 European Championship.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara